Community Foundations

Community foundations are grantmaking public charities that are dedicated to improving the lives of people in a defined local geographic area. They bring together the financial resources of individuals, families, and businesses to support effective nonprofits in their communities. Community foundations vary widely in asset size, ranging from less than $100,000 to more than $1.7 billion.

Community foundations play a key role in identifying and solving community problems. In 2011, they gave an estimated $4.3 billion to a variety of nonprofit activities in fields that included the arts and education, health and human services, the environment, and disaster relief. The Community Foundations National Standards Board confirms operational excellence in six key areas—mission, structure, and governance; resource development; stewardship and accountability; grantmaking and community leadership; donor relations; and communications. Foundations that comply with these standards can display the official National Standards Seal. Right now nearly 500 community foundations have earned the seal.

More than 750 community foundations operate in urban and rural areas in every state in the United States; currently, more than 570 belong to the Council on Foundations. The community foundation model also has taken hold around the world. According to the 2010 Community Foundation Global Status Report, there are 1,680 community foundations in 51 countries. Forty-six percent exist outside of the United States. You can use our Community Foundation Locator to view a list of community foundations in the United States.

Below is everything on our site for community foundations. We highly recommend that you use the navigation or our search feature to find what you're looking for on our site.

This legislation includes several important provisions that will help charitable and philanthropic organizations serving communities in every Congressional District across the country. Specifically, H.R. 644 would permanently enact three temporary and currently expired giving incentives – the IRA charitable rollover and enhanced incentives for the donations of food inventory and land conservation easements. The measure also simplifies the excise tax rate on private foundation investment income.

Low-income families typically have few options for emergency cash, forcing many to rely on high-cost payday loans for unexpected financial needs. But these loans, which are disproportionately marketed to low-income and minority communities, lead to repeated cash shortages that drive consumers to take out successive payday loans, trapping them in vicious cycles of debt.

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I recently had the opportunity to interview Emily Kessler, the interim director of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy. In this interview, Emily shares how she got her start in philanthropy and what she is hoping to do to help emerging professionals and increase the value of an EPIP membership.

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A well-trained staff and a well-informed board are crucial to community foundation success in a fast-changing world. This two-day course helps new and experienced foundation stakeholders build essential skills they need. Created and led by experienced leaders, this course includes:

The policy issues that impact philanthropy are wide-ranging. The Council’s team of policy and legal experts regularly monitors and tracks proposals impacting individual giving incentives, tax code provisions that impact the business operations of foundations, IRS regulatory proposals, Administrative actions, policies affecting cross-border philanthropy, public-philanthropic partnership developments, and much more.

Our issue pages include the latest developments on policies that will impact your foundation’s work, including: